Arrabal, Revolt of the (Revolt of the Suburb) (818)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Rebellious residents of a
Córdoban arrabal vs. forces of Emir al-Hakam I
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Córdoba and environs, Spain
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Residents of the Córdoban
arrabal sought the overthrow of Emir al-Hakam I.
OUTCOME: The forces of Hakam I not only fended off an
attack on the royal palace, but made extravagant reprisals
against the Córdoban arrabal.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
CASUALTIES: In addition to the palace attackers, 300
residents of the Córdoban arrabal were killed; 60,000
residents were expelled from Spain.
Arrabal is the Spanish word for suburb, and this conflict is
also known as the Revolt of the Suburb, the suburb in
question being a settlement outside Córdoba, Spain. The
origin of the revolt can be traced to 805, when the people
of Córdoba rose against the Ummayyad emir of the city, al-
Hakam I (d. 822). Hakam quickly suppressed the uprising,
then took steps to ensure that it would not be
renewed. He levied heavy taxes on Córdoba in the belief
that this would effectively hobble the people. Predictably,
however, the oppressive taxes served only to revive popular
sentiment against him. In 818 residents of one of the
suburbs outside Córdoba proper stormed the palace of the
emir. The attack proved tragically fruitless, as palace
guards not only repulsed the mob but slaughtered it.
In what came next, it is not clear whether the emir
gave the order or whether the palace guards acted on their
own. The guards fanned out into the arrabal and arrested
some 300 of the most prominent residents. These individuals
were crucified and left to hang as an example to others.
Next, the guards pillaged the arrabal, rounding up
virtually all inhabitants, some 60,000 people. They were
banished from Spain. (Most settled in North Africa and
took up outlaw lives as pirates.)
Further reading: Anwar G. Chejne, Muslim Spain: Its
History and Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 1974); Reinhart Dozy, Spanish Islam: A History of the
Moslems in Spain (London: Frank Cass, 1972); W. Duncan
Townson, Muslim Spain (Cambridge: Cambridge University